The world of F1 has been rocked on the eve of the new campaign following the death of race director Charlie Whiting in Melbourne.
The 66-year-old passed away after suffering a pulmonary embolism, prompting tributes from colleagues, drivers and racing fans alike.
F1 enthusiasts have been left wondering what the future holds, with questions over whether the Australian Grand Prix will now be cancelled.
Express Sport explains what will happen now and how the FIA are expected to react to the sad news of Charlie Whiting‘s death.
Will Australian Grand Prix be cancelled?
No. F1 chiefs are planning for the weekend to go ahead as scheduled at Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit.
The first practice session is set to take place on Friday, with qualifying to follow on Saturday.
The Australian Grand Prix itself will still happen on Sunday, with journalist Rachel Brookes succinctly summing up that stance.
“The lights will go green, the racing will continue,” said Brookes on Sky Sports’ F1 coverage.
Who will be race director?
It is not immediately clear who will perform the duties of race director at the Australian Grand Prix.
It has been reported, however, that the FIA have already been preparing for when Whiting was due to retire at the end of the season.
Former Supercars deputy race director Michael Masi has been earmarked to fill the role from 2020.
Masi is currently working as a steward in Formula E, but his appointment could be brought forward following Whiting’s death.
Charlie Whiting tributes
Toto Wolff, Mattia Binotto and Christian Horner, the team principals of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull respectively have hailed Whiting’s work in the wake of his death.
Wolff said: “He was a fantastic ambassador for our sport and a true guardian of its best interests; all of us who were lucky enough to know him will miss his ready smile and gentle humour.”
Binotto said: “Charlie was a true professional and extremely knowledgeable, but more than that, he was a wonderful person, who always treated everyone with respect.”
Horner said: “Charlie was a great man who will be sadly missed by the entire Formula 1 paddock and the wider motorsport community.”